In May of this year, Oklahoma enacted HB 2204, which amends sections of the Oklahoma Employment Security Act.
Though more commonly known for its loophole-closing features which allow Oklahoma employers to terminate workers who test positive for drugs and alcohol and not pay them unemployment compensation, this law also addresses unemployment compensation more broadly, and has been deemed by the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration (DOLETA) to meet the goals of TAAEA’s Section 252 provisions.
Unlike other states’ recently-passed UI integrity legislation, Oklahoma’s HB 2204 was not written in response to Section 252, and it does not include language specifying that “the employer will not be relieved” when they fail to respond adequately or timely, nor does it include a provision for or definition of a “pattern of non-response.”
The portions of the amended Oklahoma Employment Security Act that relate to Section 252 are:
- 2-503 Notice of Determinations
- 3-106 Benefit Wages Charged and Relief Therefrom
Oklahoma Employers now have 10 days (from date of postmark, or date of transmission if the employer has elected to be notified by electronic means) to respond to a notice of benefit claim from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. If they fail to respond, the employer is considered a non-interested party and benefits are granted. If the employer objects at any point after the 10-day period, their objection is automatically denied and they are charged for any benefits after the 5th week of benefits paid. If the employer continues to object, they can proceed with the appeal process.
Separately, after the claimant’s fifth week of benefits, the Commission will give notice to each base employer of the claimant. Employer will then have 20 days (from date of postmark, or date of transmission if the employer has elected to be notified by electronic means) to file written objection to being charged with the benefit wages, upon receipt of which the Commission will make a determination of relief and notify the employer. The legislation also allows that the twenty-day deadline may be waived for good cause shown.
Following the notification of the Commission’s determination, within 14 days of the date of that postmark, the employer may then file a written protest to the determination and request an oral hearing de novo to present more evidence in support of its protest. The Commission would then advise the employer of a hearing date which will be within 10 days of the postmark date of the written notice. HOWEVER, if the employer fails to file written protest within 14 days of notification of the Commission’s determination, that determination shall be final and no appeal shall thereafter be allowed. That particular inclusion helps satisfy the state’s Section 252 obligation for no employer relief of charges made due to the employer’s lack of timely or adequate response.
HB 2204 contains other provisions and details which should be more closely examined by employers doing business in that state. You can find the final legislation here.
What does this mean for you? If you have operations in the state of Oklahoma, ensure that your in-house and/or third party UC administrator is prepared for these changes. Employers with operations in Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Nebraska also face recently-passed Section 252-related legislation. Employers in other states, be on the lookout for similar legislation likely headed your way.
How Will “Section 252” Impact You?
Download our one page Fact Sheet on Section 252 to get a better understanding of key provisions that will directly impact employers.
Disclaimer: This article is general in nature and is not intended to replace the guidance of an employment tax expert and/or legal professional with regards to an appropriate course of action in your particular circumstances. Please consult with a professional for appropriate advice in your case. Pursuant to IRS “Circular 230” rules, any information included herewithin is not intended or written to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the federal Internal Revenue Code.